Articles Posted in Collaborative Law

new-years-eve-1-689636-m.jpgAs this year comes to a close, I took a look at some of the topics I wrote about throughout the year. I’ve covered a mix of different topics, ranging from co-parenting issues to unique prenuptial agreement cases. Out of all the entries I looked through, the more popular pieces tended to fall under the category of prenuptial agreements and topics dealing with finances or assets. I figured that a good way to close out the year would be to highlight some of my more popular posts, based on feedback I’ve received from others:
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Blog -winter-snow-storm-2.14.2014.jpgA simple Internet search of “National Divorce Month” will result in a stack of articles discussing how lawyers encounter a heavy volume of calls right after the holidays, giving January the unfortunate moniker of ‘National Divorce Month.’ 2014 has been no different. Last month we once again saw divorce attorneys writing about how the phones began to ring off the hook once the holiday season officially ended. On the surface, it makes sense. Many couples choose to prolong beginning the divorce or separation process until after the already busy and stressful holidays are over. It can be especially difficult for couples with children, because parents are hesitant to interrupt the child’s holiday with news of a divorce. Many people tend to look at the New Year as a “fresh start” and a chance to begin again, so choosing to begin the divorce process in the New Year seems like the best alternative.

Is there ever really a “right” time to initiate a divorce or separation? Many articles written about January divorces point to the many reasons why people choose to begin the process at that time, and why it makes sense to wait until after the holidays. The most important thing, though, is for the spouses to evaluate their own marital life and family. Several of my blogs have made mention of the fact that every family is different and thus, every divorce is also different. This rings true no matter what the highest divorce month may be.

The decision to divorce or separate is an important one, to say the least. Every couple has considerations to keep in mind before deciding if divorce is the right path to take. In making an assessment of the marital life as well as family life, couples should make sure to have open and honest communication, and not rush the process. Some couples find it helpful to sit down with a couples’ counselor or mediator in order to really get everything on the table. A very important aspect of assessing the situation is to become educated on all of the options available. Taking an active role in decision-making is helpful in reaching decisions about what to do.
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zen-still-life-605551-m.jpgTo many people, the word divorce is like a “four-letter word” for many different reasons. Amicable divorces do happen, but many divorces involve hostility, anger, and a whole array of negative emotions. When a couple is faced with a stressful and possibly hostile situation, they often feel that the ordeal becomes even more stressful in court. Collaborative law has become an increasingly popular way for couples to make the divorce process more efficient as well as less confrontational.

One of the most important aspects of collaborative law is its non-adversarial nature. Rather than facing off in court and trying to win over the other party, collaborative law focuses on an optimal result for both parties. Because collaborative law allows the parties to have a respectful exchange of a non-adversarial nature, it helps to eliminate some of the added stress of the divorce process. Now you might be thinking, “It seems that any divorce, no matter what method or process is used, would be adversarial by its sheer nature.” Divorce involves a couple going through the process of dissolving their marriage. While it is true that the very nature of divorce can be adversarial, the process to achieve its result does not need to be. Collaborative law focuses on achieving a result that considers the well being of the whole family.

Although some couples rely on settlement negotiations in the divorce process, it is important to note that these negotiations do differ from using collaborative law. Settlement negotiations may take place outside of the courtroom and away from the judge, but these negotiations are still done with an “I win, you lose” mentality. Collaborative law allows attorneys for each party to have an open and respectful discussion of the issues – usually with the parties being present and participating. Each side is working in good faith to reach a settlement and if that does not happen, the collaborative law attorneys withdraw. In conventional settlement negotiations, the lawyers may stay on to represent the clients in court if settlement is not reached. This aspect of collaborative law seems nuanced, but this important legal obligation to withdraw from representation if settlement is not reached, reflects the idea that collaborative attorneys are committed to helping the parties reach a reasonable settlement.

Another benefit of Collaborative Law is the ability to maintain confidentiality of personal information. In a collaborative setting, all information, except for documents that were not produced specifically for the process (i.e. tax returns and bank statements) remain out of the court’s record and private. There is also full disclosure of all information necessary for decision-making. Full disclosure helps to create an open environment, which encourages truthful and principled negotiations so the parties are able to work together more efficiently toward the best resolution.
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